UNITED NATIONS, New York – As more than 2.3 million Syrian women and girls of reproductive age continue to bear the brunt of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is seeking around $81 million to continue supporting these women and girls to stay healthy, safe and to care for their families.
“Every Syrian woman must have access to affordable and accessible reproductive health care and be protected from gender-based violence that can occur at every stage of conflict,” says Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, ahead of the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, to take place this week in Kuwait. “As the number of Syrian women and girls of reproductive age is estimated to reach five million by the end of 2014, we count on the international community’s support for UNFPA to continue to deliver lifesaving services to each and every one of them.”
Today, around 1.6 million Syrian women and girls of reproductive age are displaced within Syria while more than 500,000 are refugees in neighboring countries. There are an estimated 50,000 refugees who are currently pregnant and require care, and around 21,000 newborns whose mothers are refugees. An estimated 75 per cent of the refugees live outside formal settlements, and 43 per cent of those families are headed by women who face severe economic challenges.
UNFPA’s lifesaving services to women and girls of reproductive age are aimed at reducing maternal morbidity and death within Syria and in countries affected by the crisis. In 2013, UNFPA provided reproductive and maternal health services including emergency obstetric care to nearly two million Syrian women and assisted in more than 10,000 normal deliveries and 5,000 Caesarean sections.
In addition, UNFPA ensured the provision of free reproductive health services through the establishment of an innovative voucher system within Syria which has so far benefitted 110,000 women. More than 600,000 dignity kits containing basic hygiene items, such as soap and sanitary pads, were also distributed. UNPFA supported 93 health facilities and mobile clinics within Syria and established more than 20 reproductive health and mobile clinics in Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
Combating gender-based violence (GBV) in Syria and in all the countries affected by the crisis is a priority for UNPFA as it is for the international community. Sexual violence is usually under-reported, even in well-resourced and stable situations. Conflict or disaster situations significantly increase the vulnerability of most women and girls (and some boys and men) to sexual violence. A wide spectrum of violations ranging from domestic violence to sexual harassment and rape have been reported by GBV survivors to staff in three UNFPA-supported women’s centres in Damascus and anecdotal evidence suggests that GBV incidents have increased due to the protracted crisis.
To date, UNFPA has helped set up GBV programmes that: strengthen protection activities; deliver psychological aid and support services, including individual counseling; provide legal support and livelihood activities for survivors; publicize available services and raise public awareness; and contribute to behavior change campaigns to begin to change attitudes that tolerate violence. In 2013 inside Syria, 38,000 women accessed such services.
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